Spreading art through rock music

As the bass player and lead guitarist in two bands, Modern Mad and Tokyo Heroin, junior Michael Ruiz has his mind set on aiding two soon-to-be professional bands.

Ruiz joined Modern Mad with an invitation from the guitar player to play bass. Modern Mad is an outside band that plays outside of school, but includes students from Jazz Band. The genre of music the band focuses on centers around soul and rock music.

“I was really interested in playing in a band, and I was more excited if anything, mainly because I love the bass and the guitar,” Ruiz said. “I’ve always admired guitar players like Chuck Berry or George Harrison, and to me this invitation seemed like my shot to become one of them.”

However, he had his heart set on being the lead singer and guitar player of his own band in hopes of incorporating his own ideas into the music and style of the band. He went to incorporate these ideas in his original band Tokyo Heroin, the image being to steer the band into playing a genre of psychedelic and pop music.

“I wanted to be in a band where I played guitar and sang a song that I was the main writer of,” Ruiz said. “I wanted to do this because I have a lot of ideas that wouldn’t fit with the Modern Mad, so I decided to create Tokyo Heroin.”

Ruiz had this vision for Tokyo Heroin, in being that they would one day hit it off and become a pro-band by getting signed by a record label. He knows that Modern Mad is on its way to becoming pro, but he has the same hopes for Tokyo Heroin as well.

“[With] Modern Mad, we’ve had gigs here and there ever since we started, but we want to get to other places to explore around and try out our music with different crowds,” Ruiz said.

Modern Mad plays at the Old Towne Pub in Pasadena, with paid admission to see the band on certain gigs. The gigs are organized and reserved by the lead guitarist in the band, as he is friends with the owner of the Pub.

“For Tokyo Heroine, we haven’t had a recording yet because we haven’t really performed anywhere, as we’re more of the backyard kind of scene,” Ruiz said. “The Modern Mad is our main goal to become professional, and I want Tokyo [Heroine] to be the same, but it’s a little harder because our [bass] player also plays tuba and snare drum, so with him practicing all three instruments, it’s a time crunch.”

Ruiz recognizes the time it takes to practice with both bands, but he and the bands collaborate together to form a schedule to organize practice dates and times that work with everyone’s schedule.

“I just want to be able to make music that I think is cool, and if I can make a living doing it, that’s cool too, but it’s always about the music,” Ruiz said. “No matter what, the music comes first.”

By Tristan Gonzalez, Arts editor

Photo courtesy of Michael Ruiz